Offstage Christmas: Simeon & Anna


Lev. 12:3-8 required sacrifice for purification 40 days after birth with offering of lamb or dove (2 doves if poor) in the temple courts. So Jesus arrives at the temple as a young infant where an elderly man (Simeon) and woman (Anna) are supporting characters. Let's take a closer look at each of these characters in the Christmas story.

1. Simeon - when prayers are not answered  

Simeon witnessed “the consolation of Israel” (2:25) after over 50 years of waiting. He prayed and waited and it wasn’t answered until the end of his life (persevering faith). He experienced much turmoil in his world (Roman Empire conquered Jerusalem in 63 B.C. and Civil War in 37 BC where Herod took the throne). He walked through dark times of grief and loss as he waited for the One who would dispel the darkness.

The right place at the right time: Simeon had no angelic visits, but he was guided by the Holy Spirit (2:26) to be at the Temple that day. Sometimes we’re too busy to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit (not paying attention). What if he decided to stay in bed that day because he was too tired? What excuses do you give for not slowing down and paying attention?

Joy in Christ: As Simeon holds Jesus in his arms, there’s pure joy of seeing God’s promises fulfilled.  Simeon would never see Jesus perform a miracle or preach a sermon, yet he believed God’s promises. We will not see all of God’s promises - prodigals, healing, reconciliation etc. Joy is in the journey with Christ, not in seeing all our hopes and dreams answered.

2. Anna - when life brings disappointment

Anna was a widow whose husband died after seven years - her grief and loss caused her to turn toward God, not away from God. Our culture values young, married, and happy (“useful”) and views the old, widowed, and sad as “used up” - but they’re not used up, they’re used by God. Sometimes the young are too busy and not available. Affirm older, wiser saints of the congregation - they bring something different than external strength and energy. Encourage those experiencing grief and loss to turn toward Christ, and not be “washed up” in the faith. Joy is possible because of the cross.

Anna spoke about the child to all (2:38) - she can’t help but tell others. That’s how the gospel spreads - we come to faith because someone told us. What does it look like for you to invite someone to church, or Christmas Eve service to hear about Christ? What does it look like to tell someone about the joy Christ brings in the midst of life’s disappointment?